As a digital marketer, not a week goes by when I don’t hear a business owner talk about putting more budget into SEO, but looking at their day-to-day content with a “when I get to it” mentality. The truth is, one will not be successful without the other.

Traditional search engine optimization (SEO) tactics are rooted in keyword analysis. What exact words or phrases do people search for, and how can you use that to get your website higher in the search engine rankings? If your digital marketing practice is still focused in this area, you’re a bit behind the times.

Today’s search engine algorithms are no longer keyword-centric. Instead, they focus on the content analysis that is based on searcher intent. If you want to get to the top of Google, your keywords will still be important – but how you use them is vital.

Want proof? 

In the past, when you searched for something on Google, it gave you a list of sites that related to that keyword. Like so:

Today, in a content-dominated market – this is what you’ll find when you ask Google a question:

There are two things I want you to notice about this change. First, people no longer have to click on your site to answer a quick question. Another important observation is that the website that ranked first using the original method, isn’t the featured site anymore. The site that originally ranked third is now on top – in a big way!

So, how do businesses adapt to this? Enter content mapping!

Content mapping is not a new practice. In fact, it’s been a bit of a buzzword for the past two to three years for those in the industry. Today, this practice has gone from being an up-and-coming trend to a necessary part of any successful strategy.

What Is Content Mapping?

Content mapping is the process of aligning your brand messaging to directly address a consumer need. This means every single thing you post about your business – on your website, social media, blog, podcast, or in the media feeds into the concerns of your customer. 

Remember – content isn’t king, your audience is! 

When creating a content map, your goal should be to use your keywords to develop topics and subtopics that directly connect to a consumer need. Then, create a definitive solution for that concern. The better your content, the higher you’ll rank. 

How Do I Create A Content Map?

Creating a content map sounds like a lot of work – and it is. However, with proper research and a strong understanding of your core values, it will become second nature over time.

    Create Buyer Personas: Before you can provide a solution for a problem, you need to know who you are talking to! Buyer personas identify the unique features of each segment of your audience. For a detailed look at creating buyer personas, check out this article.

    Perform A Content Audit: Nobody likes the word “audit”, but you need to take an objective look at how you’ve presented your content in the past, and ways that you can improve moving forward. If you were one of your buyer personas, would your copy resonate with you? Are you answering their objections? Are you selling all the time, or are you offering value? Not sure where to start? Get a free audit!

    Define the Buyer Journey: Every business needs to understand the decision making process of their unique buyers. You need to determine what the goal of the consumer is at each phase, and craft your content around those needs. When done properly, you content will guide your audience from cold prospect, to hot lead, and eventually to client – without any hard selling. You’ll have build a lasting relationship with that customer that will keep them coming back for more.

    What Will A Content Map Do For My Business?

    The extra effort put into research and strategy design is quite an undertaking, so what can you expect to get from this process?

Content mapping will help you to:

  • Create buyer-centric content. They’ll connect to your brand faster, because it’s all about them!
  • Create a more efficient sales funnel.
  • Provide an accurate, timely view of how your content ranks compared to your competitors.
  • Generate more leads, and create more brand advocates

Armed with documented research and an informed perspective, you can create an effective marketing strategy that works with the search engines to drive revenue and build a loyal following. Most importantly, you’ll create a more dynamic and friendly experience for your customers.

Contributor: Erika is the founder of Heeren Content & Strategy and serves as Project Manager for Wright Stuff Radio. A 13-year marketing and public relations veteran, she has a professional focus on integrated media spanning 16 different industries. She works with small businesses and non-profit organizations to provide affordable, professional-quality content development, marketing, and public relations services. Her clients include local small business owners, marketing agencies, public universities, media outlets, Huffington Post-published authors, IT firms, and non-profit organizations.

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